MP Assembly Bypolls: Kamal Nath, Pilot woo voters in Scindia bastion

Nearly a week ahead of the by-elections to the 28 Madhya Pradesh Assembly seats, the Congress on Tuesday fielded Kamal Nath in Gwalior and Rajasthan leader Sachin Pilot in the Gwalior-Chambal area -- considered a bastion of BJP MP Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Pilot addressed public rallies in Gwalior, Shivpuri and Morena and is scheduled to address four rallies in Bhind-Morena area on Wednesday. Kamal Nath campaigned in two Assembly segments in Gwalior.

Pilot, a former Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan, is considered close to Scindia, who along with 22 Congress MLAs had walked out of the Congress to join the BJP in March.

Pilot is the friend of Scindia and his visit to Gwalior Chambal region is one of the strategies to counter Scindia influence in the region. Pilot is known as the leader of Gurjars and region has good number of Gurjar voters. Though he will not address public meeting, he will hold meetings with party workers during his two-day tour. Pilot had rebelled against Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot few months back before reconciling with the party.

Even as Scindia was away to Malwa where he is fighting a tough political battle, Pilot opted not to say anything against the erstwhile Gwalior royal family's scion.

Refered to as "farmer's son" during the Congress campaign, Sachin Pilot appealed to the voters to vote for the Congress in Jaura. "This election is to save democracy," he said but refrained from commenting on Scindia even though other speakers dubbed Scindia a "traitor".

Acharya Pramod Krishnam said: "Sachin Pilot had the choice of becoming the Chief Minister but he stuck to his principles.

"Pilot is a son of a farmer while Scindia is a traitor who helped the BJP steal the popular mandate for the Congress in Madhya Pradesh."

Pilot later tweeted pictures from his public meetings and wrote: "The Congress is again of the firm belief to take Madhya Pradesh on the path of prosperity."

The Congress is pitching Sachin Pilot to sent out a message to the electorate that he too had the chance to move away from the Congress but did not do so like Scindia who moved to the BJP, a Congress leader remarked.

Insiders said that the Congress wants to show that loyality pays in the party and despite all the ups and down Pilot has been put on campaign duty in Bihar too.

In March, 22 Congress MLAs had resigned from the Assembly and joined the BJP under the leadership of Scindia, which led to the collapse of the then Kamal Nath-led Congress government. Three more Congress MLAs later resigned from the Assembly. Congress MLA Rahul Lodhi is the latest to resign his Assembly membership and join the BJP.

The Congress will need to win all 28 seats in Madhya Pradesh to again get a majority in the Assembly. On the other hand, the ruling BJP needs only nine seats to reach the magic figure of 116.

In the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly, the BJP has 107 MLAs, Congress 88, BSP 2, SP 1, and Independents 4.

The 28 Assembly segments in Madhya Pradesh will see by-elections on November 3.

(With input from agencies)

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